Kansas woman’s letter to AOC brings MSNBC to her ranch
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez penned the Green New Deal, and what she had to say about agriculture, specifically cattle production, reached Brandi Buzzard Frobose on her Kansas ranch.
Reaching out to the Congresswoman to begin a constructive conversation was Buzzard Frobose’s first inkling and that she did. Once posted on her blog, “Buzzard’s Beat,” and her social media accounts, the reception from agriculture was overwhelming enough to crash her website for the better part of two days.
Having her letter reach so many in production agriculture was positive but when she had the opportunity to host MSNBC anchor Vaughn Hillyard at the ranch, she said she jumped at the chance to reach an audience outside agriculture. Hillyard has been traveling the country for about a year as the agriculture correspondent. Not originally from agriculture, she said he is open minded and interested.
“It was really important to me for people to know that cattle are only responsible for 2 percent of greenhouse gas emissions,” she said. “In the grand scheme of things in the U.S. that contribute to air quality, cattle are a negligible piece of that.”
Agriculture overall, she said, is responsible for less than 10 percent of emissions. In her letter to the Congresswoman, she wrote, “As a rancher, I can tell you that we take the quality of the great outdoors very seriously — air, soil and water quality are all of utmost importance to us here because, well we are the ones living here in the sticks. Which is why our segment of agriculture actively works to reduce our impact on the environment every. single. day. For example, from 2005-2011, the U.S. beef industry reduced its greenhouse gas emissions and water use by 2 percent and 3 percent, respectively. That reduction in air emissions puts our figures at just 2 percent of the sum total of U.S. GHG, according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Comparatively, the U.S. transportation sector contributes 28 percent of GHG emissions.”
Some of her acquaintances in agriculture expressed concern that she chose to speak to MSNBC, who tends to lean farther left than some other networks. However, she sees it not only as a chance to reach a new audience but also an audience who may have a different opinion of agriculture.
“Journalists are supposed to present the facts from both sides and let people make their own decisions based on that,” she said. “It’s so frustrating when people get mad when the news is trying to remain unbiased. That’s what the news is supposed to be.”
The MSNBC crew, who was able to contact Buzzard Frobose through Instagram, visited her ranch in Greeley, Kan., on Valentine’s Day. They returned the following morning and she fed them breakfast — complete with bacon and milk — and she and her husband answered their questions related to everything from food labeling to hormones.
“It was a great experience,” she said. “I actually plan to write a blog post about it.”
Buzzard Frobose blogs and uses her social media to post about ranch life, raising her daughter on the ranch, how they responsibly utilize antibiotics, and other hot topics in agriculture and cattle production.
She and her husband, Hyatt, operate High Bar Cattle Company, located in southeast Kansas. They are a seedstock Balancer and Gelbvieh operation. Her husband is a fifth-generation rancher originally from Ohio. She grew up in agriculture, graduated from Kansas State University with both her graduate and undergraduate degree and works as the director of communications for the Red Angus Association of America. The couple purchased their ranch and have built the operation from the ground up.
Ocasio-Cortez does not make her email available to those outside her district so emailing the letter to her was a challenge. Even after tagging the Congresswoman’s official social media accounts several times, Buzzard Frobose has not received a response.
MSNBC may broadcast another segment featuring Buzzard Frobose next week, and is making tentative plans to visit the ranch again in spring or fall. Having a rancher voice on the national news, she said, is positive and she credits the crew with leaving the politics out of her segment.
“They sound genuinely interested in coming back,” she said. “I told them if they come back in May or June, I can pretty much guarantee green grass. If they come back in September, I can guarantee baby calves.” ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 392-4410.